Getting Informed through Facebook: A Risk

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Through its massive proportions, Facebook has become an important outlet for news and media. Lots of people get their daily updates of what happens around the world from what is being liked and shared on Facebook. However, this phenomenon has given rise to so-called “fake news”. The terminology leaves nothing to the imagination. These posts entail completely made-up stories, often tailoring to populistic topics in order to generate the most amount of views.  The problem became especially prevalent during the recent elections in the United States; an array of misinformation proliferated across social media, giving skewed, or down-right wrong, impressions of events and statements. Facebook has acknowledged the problem, and is working on a solution.


Users have noticed a new feature to appear on their Facebook webpage. Under a shared article, a Likert scale is provided (The Guardian, 2016). This scale asks the user whether or not the article withholds any important information of the article, rated from “Not at all” to “Completely”. With this feature, articles can be given a rating of validity. Users can then base their trust of the truthfulness of the article on that rating.


Independent initiatives to battle fake news are also going online. BS Detector is a plugin for web-browsers that checks the source of an article against a database of known fake news sources. If an article is recognized as originating from a blacklisted site, the plugin will insert a red banner over the article with a warning of the potential of misinformation.


Despite actions currently undertaken, fake news will still be found in abundance on social media. We must all still rely on our own judgement of the reliability and validity of a news article being shared on Facebook. Technology has allowed us all to reach each other. It is up to us to be our own BS detector, and not believe anything shared on Facebook without second thought.



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Grading the quality of posts will lead AI to pass the Turing test

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According to Hillary Clinton, “fake” news can be dangerous. This response seems to refer to an attack at a local pizzeria. An armed man wanted to investigate this pizzeria after a post of a complot theory that Hillary Clinton and her campagne manager run a pedophile network through this pizzeria. Luckily, this man was caught before he could do any harm.
Clinton says that this kind of fake news is becoming an epidemic and a danger, which needs to be cared of. She calls out for politicians and companies to protect the democracy and its innocent citizens (Garcia, 2016).


During the US presidential election last month, social media was an essential key in winning votes. Both candidates were victims by false posts, which slandered to through the social web. Hard lies and several accusations were sold as straight severe news articles, which a naïve person would believe it instantly. According to the Financial Times, the social media platforms are the ones to blame for these posts and need to fight these kind of fake news (Waters, Garrahan and Bradshaw, 2016).

Earlier this week, Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that they started to ask users on a small scale to rate articles’ use of “misleading language”. Responses ranged from “not at all” to “completely” (Coldewey, 2016). This action was to detect fake news articles and help preventing new ones on the platform.

However, Facebook claimed “that this is an official effort, they did not answer to questions how it works, how the data is used and retained, and so on” (Coldewey, 2016). This means that they can use the data for other purposes.


Figure 1: Survey on Facebook


The way this survey is set up is useful in a way. Users are asked to answer the question based on text/post, whether it can be defined misleading or not (figure 1). This classification can lead text mining at large to whether specific words are used to mislead persons. The language is being understood better by labeling the words and context to its ‘actual’ meaning. These hidden messages are normally only understandable to an average person.

Text mining is a main source for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to better understand the language in general. What Facebook is doing with defining misleading text, is actually contributing to better performances of AI. Will robots in the future better understand humans through machine learning from these kinds of action? Will the future robot pass the Turing test* due text mining?



After this first step of data/text mining, a second step could be adding a change in grading the of quality of posts in social media. Eventually, this will influence an AI in better recognition of human interpretations in the future. This leads AI into better understanding of jokes, sarcasm, irony, et cetera: things what distinguishes humans from robots.

This is scary.

*A Turing test is a test for determining whether an AI is capable of thinking like a human. For this, see the movie Ex Machina.




Coldewey, D. (2016). Facebook begins asking users to rate articles’ use of ‘misleading language’. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

Garcia, F. (2016). Hillary Clinton says fake news is a ‘dangerous epidemic’ that puts lives at risk. [online] The Independent. Available at: [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].

Waters, R., Garrahan, M. and Bradshaw, T. (2016). Harsh truths about fake news for Facebook, Google and Twitter. [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Dec. 2016].





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Will Facebook dominate LinkedIn?

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LinkedIn may feel threatened, as Facebook is expanding its range of services again. Mark Zuckerberg’s service is trying to deliver the new value to its user by becoming a recruitment platform.

As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook is testing a new option for fanpage administrators. Having that, companies will be able to recruit new employees through their Facebook sites. Facebook wants to incorporate the recruitment mechanism into the Facebook fanpages of companies and show it as a separate item next to the information, photos, etc.

So, how will it work?

The employer will be able to create a form, which will give information on the requirements, salary, and general nature of the employment, while the potential employee will be able to apply directly through the form by submitting the CV and other required documents. The company will receive an application in the form of Facebook message.

Interestingly, an application form will use data that has already been provided to Facebook. So, after the form has been completed once, or we have a well-filled history of education, employment, etc., Facebook will fill the form automatically. This feature will save the user’s time as there will be no need to repeatedly type the same information into many similar forms while applying to multiple companies.

Is this a threat to LinkedIn?

As LinkedIn – the most “professional” social networking – continues to stagnate, waiting for the finalization of the $26 billion worth deal with Microsoft, Facebook introduced the new feature just in time, possibly leaving Microsoft with the overpriced platform.

In recent years LinkedIn has lost on importance. It used to be a highly important service when it came to establishing business relations, however, there are fewer and fewer communities thinking about the service in this way. It is especially evident when it comes to young people, who are just entering the labor market. They often do not use LinkedIn as the service is extremely unfriendly, fossilized, and has nothing to offer to the young generation.

Meanwhile, most of these people have a Facebook account. So, where they will look for a job after Facebook introduces a new functionality to everyone?

Currently, it is not known when Facebook will make the feature available to everyone, but for sure it will happen soon.

I have no doubt that the new functionality will be extremely popular. Potential employees will be offered jobs automatically and the enormous customer base and analytical capabilities of Facebook ensures that the job offerings will be targeted accurately and to a vast number of people. Both employees and employers will benefit from that.

So, is the fall of LinkedIn inevitable? No, not yet. The company can undertake actions to attract and retain users. Linkedin has a brand and is known as a professional network, while Facebook is associated with private networking platform and often the information shared by the users are of private nature, so the risk that employers will know “too much” is immense. However, LinkedIn must be quick.

What do you think about the future of LinkedIn? Do you think that the service is on a hiding to nothing? What about the acquisition by Microsoft?


Microsoft to buy LinkedIn for $26.2B in cash, makes big move into enterprise social media

Facebook threatens LinkedIn with job opening features

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Aquila: Social Media Giant’s drone

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Just a month ago, Facebook, the social media giant, was under investigation by National Aviation Safety Board (NASB) after its experimental drone Aquila crashed on a test flight in June. Wait, what? Facebook is building a drone? Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg and his team, the Facebook Connectivity Lab, are committed to develop new technologies to bring affordable internet access to more people. After the satellite destruction in SpaceX’s rocket explosion and the deep disappointment followed by the accident, the company focused on its plan to build a solar-powered drone that will beam internet to remote parts of the world. Aquila.

Aquila is one of the creations of the Connectivity Lab team, designed to deliver Internet to everyone. The drone has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737, but weights just the one third of an electric car, mainly because of the carbon fiber body (650 kg). The plane is made in purpose so light aiming to make it stay aloft for months at a time. Additionally, it consumes the energy of three hairdryers and it is mostly self-sufficient but it is still monitored by a team of technicians on the ground. The drone will be load with technology able to transfer data 10 times faster than existing systems and its communication diameter will be 60 miles. The first test flight that took place in June was successful and Aquila flew for about 100 minutes, 3 times more than the planned mission length. The technicians gathered tones of data about the performance of the drone to optimize the flight and succeed greater height in the next flights. Mark Zuckerberg, made known the successful test flight of Aquila, with a post in his personal account on Facebook right after the flight. That was the last news regarding the drone and its flights, till mid-November when the NASB started an investigation. Eventually, the test flight was not so successful as the drone crashed during the landing, making it unsuitable for flight.

Facebook tries to differentiate its self from the “social media giant” identity, experimenting and investing in other projects. The company recently unveiled its 10-year plan which includes artificial intelligence and virtual reality, as well as satellites and drones. They are working on a standalone VR headset and an AI picture-editing tool that will let users add “intelligent” filters to videos as they film. “Facebook’s mission is to make the world more open and connected,” said Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, outlining the plan at the annual Web Summit conference.



Facebook’s Giant Internet-Beaming Drone Finally Takes Flight

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“To Make the World More Open and Connected?”

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Facebook has been blocked in China ever since the 2009 Ürümqi riots. Independence activists were using Facebook to communicate and plan the movement, thus, it had to be stopped. However, times have changed, it might no longer be the activists groups giving Facebook the largest use. Mark Zuckerberg has been working on his relationships with Chinese leaders as a way to enter the Chinese market, which would provide a huge milestone for Facebook. The actual entering to the market has not been agreed upon yet, however, there are hints that it will not take long until it occurs.

According to Facebook employees, who asked to remain anonymous, Facebook has developed software to suppress posts depending on geographical locations. The idea would be to partner with a Chinese company that will be in charge of doing the actual censorship. Doing so will allow Facebook to enter the Chinese market more strongly, as the Chinese company will have the local knowledge that Facebook does not posses. Moreover, it will allow Facebook to create distance between themselves and suppressing of the posts, which goes against their company mission:
“To make the world more open and connected”.

We must also think about the reasons why Chinese leaders would want Facebook in China, which many would immediately link to control. Wouldn’t having a suppressed newsfeed allow you to control what people think to a certain extent? What would the data that Facebook could provide mean to the governance of the COUNTRY?

China is currently testing a new way of social control called the social credit system. This ranks citizens depending on their social and financial behavior. The score could affect a large amount of aspects of a person’s life, such as acquiring loans or traveling abroad. Startups have had ideas similar to these, using Facebook to assess people’s eligibility for loans, but Facebook itself has prevented these.

Could the desire of entering this enormous market be strong enough to lure Facebook into changing its mind again?


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Last stop for Facebook’s world domination: China

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Apparently, 1.8 billion users on their social platform is not enough for Facebook. The company has conquered the West almost entirely, as well as South-East Asia and Oceania/Australia. Since Facebook is blocked in China, Facebook has pretty much zero market penetration in the world’s largest online market. This markets consists of 420 billion internet users. However, things are about to change for the world’s largest social media website.

The company has prepared software to conquer the Chinese social media market. According to a new report, the company has developed a sort of censorship-software that allows third-parties to target posts in certain geographic areas. The News Feed censorship tool was created specifically to help the platform make inroads into China, claim employees at the company who spoke to The New York Times, according to

Facebook has been restricted for its content in other countries before, such as Russia, Pakistan and Turkey. Facebook blocked roughly 55,000 pieces of content in about 20 countries between July 2015 and December 2015, for example. This number is increasing ever since. But the new feature takes it a step further by preventing content from appearing in feeds in China in the first place.

Pretty remarkable, Facebook reported that it doesn’t plan to use the censorship software itself. Instead, it will offer the tool to a Chinese third party (such as a contractor) to monitor and remove trending stories on the platform to remain in line with Chinese social media regulations. The software’s code is visible to Facebook’s engineers, and is already causing disagreements. This is mainly because of Facebook’s fraught history concerning censorship.

Lots of media currently are saying that Zuckerberg is selling his own soul for Facebook access to China. Zuckerberg has long preyed on the Chinese market. The CEO of Facebook has even gone so far that he learned Mandarin in his spare time, although conquering the social media market of China has never been among the reasons he has cited for doing so. What do you personally think?



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5/5 (2) Facebook is winning the blocking battle, for now

For the first time in two years, Facebook’s third quarter revenue exceeded $1 billion. Even more impressive is the growth of Facebook’s desktop add revenue: a remarkable 18% year-over-year, compared to an approximate 9% in previous quarters. What caused Facebook’s accelerated desktop ad revenue? Blocking add blockers, apparently!

The blocking battle
Almost every penny Facebook makes comes through advertising. Any threat to this business model puts the entire company at risk. Unsurprisingly, Facebook takes ad blockers as a serious threat. Since august this year, Facebook and Adblock Plus – a company that offers software that blocks ads from appearing to approximately 100 million users – are engaged in a fierce blocking battle.

You might have noticed how Facebook incorporated a sneaky change in the way its ads are displayed. Ads disguised as ordinary content in order to circumvent ad blocking software in browsers. But this strategy was not to last. Within two days, Adblock Plus found a way to block them again. The company tweeted that “for this round of the cat-and-mouse contest, looks like the mouse won”. But Facebook hit back. It’s head of advertising, Adrew Bosworth – aka Boz – replied that “these new attempts don’t just block ads, but also post from friends and Pages” “We plan to address the issue.”. Boz didn’t take long. Only few hours after Adblock Plus move, Facebook began rolling out a new code that disabled Adblock Plus’s workaround.

Debate about ad blockers
The battle between Facebook and Adblock Plus sheds light on the debate about ad blockers. Many users of the controversial ad blockers are trying to protect their privacy and prevent websites from using their browsing behaviour. Moreover, people often prefer not to disturbed by advertisements.
Opponents of add blockers state that they rob sites of their income. For Facebook, advertising is their most important revenue source. Adblock Plus is also facing other critiques. According to the BBC, Adblock Plus would not block advertisements of companies that are willing to pay for this “service”, which could be considered blackmailing.

A Successful Strategy
Facebook’s decision to knee-cap the ability of add blockers to block ads on Facebook’s desktop site seems to be working. CFO David Wehner attributed the acceleration of desktop ad revenue growth ‘largely to our efforts on reducing the impact of ad blocking.’


Facebook’s Revenue in Millions

Stock Drops
Despite the successful quarter, Facebook’s share price sank with 7,6% in after-hours trading. Reason for this drop was a comment of Wehner, who stated that Facebook is approaching a maximum ad load. The company will therefore no longer be able to increase the number of ads shown. Stocks dropped after Wehner mentioned that ad revenue growth rates will be impacted meaningfully.

Business Insider (2016) Facebook en Adblock Plus verwikkeld in kat-en-muisspel. Business Insider Nederland.

Coldewey, D. (2016) Facebook’s blocker-blocking ads blocked by blockers. Tech Crunch.

Constine, J. (2016) Facebook scores big in Q3 earnings: $7.01B revenue and 1.79B users. Tech Crunch.

Lee, D. (2016) Blocked Facebook ads unblocked, for now. BBC.

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